Authentic Italian cuisine is hard to come by outside Italy as its enormous popularity and availability has, over the years, seen it inevitably adapt to local tastes everywhere in the world.
But, while there is technically nothing wrong with putting fresh cream in carbonara or adding chicken to pasta dishes, the real thing is definitely something else.
That is why Monica and Paola, the owners and chefs of That’s Amore in Limassol, managed to make me feel right at home and for doing so deserve special praise.
Finding authentic Italian restaurants in Cyprus is undoubtedly tricky for an Italian such as myself. Shipping the right ingredients like mozzarella, burrata and prosciutto, takes real commitment and can sometimes prove too costly for restaurant owners. Monica and Paola managed to find a solution.
The place is tiny, but features an open kitchen, where customers are able to see their dishes being prepared, which helps make up for it.
Al fresco dining is probably the best choice, as the restaurant is located on a quiet residential street, away from the hustle and bustle of the Limassol centre and seafront, with simple chairs and a few tables on the front porch.
That’s Amore can only accommodate around 15 people and, perhaps most importantly, its menu changes every week depending on what has arrived from the Italy.
Apart from some everlasting classics, like Bolognese ragu, tomato sauce and pesto, the customer will almost never find the same dishes two weeks in a row. When I visited the specials included homemade ravioli, either filled with burrata or with a blend of three different Italian cheeses and smothered in truffle sauce.
I went for the first type and it felt like an explosion of taste in my mouth. The burrata – an Italian cow’s milk cheese – inside the ravioli was delicate but surprisingly firm and fulfilling, and the tomato sauce accompanying the dish was cooked to perfection, with the right amount of tanginess and a few basil leaves to round it up.
I had first dallied with an entrée, which was fresh bresaola, a typical cured beef from Northern Italy, lighter and healthier than prosciutto, with rocket leaves and Parmesan shavings.
“We haven’t trained as chefs,” Monica said after I felt the need to compliment her. “We cook just like we would at home and we necessarily adapt to what we receive every week from Italy.”
Another permanent dish on the menu worth mentioning is the piadina, a thin Italian flatbread, typically prepared in the central region of Emilia-Romagna filled with a variety of cheeses and cold cuts, but also served as an untraditional pizza, with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and a variety of toppings.
The only two permanent desserts are the classic Italian choices of tiramisu and panna cotta, both masterfully prepared. The special when I visited was homemade yogurt ice cream served with fresh raspberry. With something new to try every week I’m looking forward to the chocolate mousse, cheesecake or sacher torte, one of the most recurrent and popular dishes at the restaurant.
After finding out it was my birthday, Monica and Paola offered me a selection of three desserts made of tiramisu, panna cotta and yoghurt ice cream with blackberries. All three were extremely satisfying, rich yet balanced, particularly the ice cream, a choice I would not normally have gone for.
Lovers of true Italian cuisine in Cyprus need look no further and head to That’s Amore for the closest thing to a trip to the boot you could possibly find on the island.
WHERE That’s Amore, Chrysanthou Mylona 5, Limassol
WHEN Closed last week of each month, only open for dinner during weekends
HOW MUCH €10-16 for a main dish, €4-6 for a dessert
CONTACT 25 368837